Saturday, January 15, 2011

I have a nightmare

I'm having nightmares.

Rex Ryan beating his chest like a gorilla in mating season. Mark Sanchez running off the Gillette Stadium field wagging his finger Joe Namath style. LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie and Braylon Edwards hooting and hollering in front of the few Jets fans who have moved to the front row in place of departing Patriots fans.
"The Jets are going to the AFC title game!"

And then comes the media hype. The sickening celebrations. The New York media gnawing at the New England carcass non-stop for weeks. Rex Ryan is the greatest coach of all time. Mark Sanchez is the next big star in New York. LaDainian Tomlinson for Pope. Antonio Cromartie starring in Tyler Perry's Full House remake.

This Armageddon scenario has dominated my mind since the Jets beat the Colts last Saturday. And after a week of constant sniping, most of it coming from New York, the game is finally here. And whatever happens, at least this haunting uncertainty that is slowly driving me batty will disappear.

Rational Steve knows a few things. The Patriots are better. They have a better quarterback. They have a better head coach. They have receivers who don't drop five balls a game. They're playing at home. They went 14-2 and beat every playoff team they faced in the regular season.

And, duh, they savaged the Jets 45-3 a month ago.

The facts are clear. New England should win. Odds are, it will. But the mere possibility the Patriots could lose to this team -- of all teams -- makes me physically ill. Who knows? A freaky turnover or two. An injury. A helmet catch. Weird stuff can go down. And if it does, I will have to avoid the Internet and TV for a while.

Which is tough when you work for a sports website.

I used to be supremely confident in the Patriots in the playoffs. And while I know how lucky all us Flying Elvis fans are to have witnessed this dynasty, the past several years have ended in every agonizing way the football deities could envision.

That sloppy loss in Denver. The collapse in Indianapolis. The game in Phoenix I still have problems dealing with. And last year's pathetic effort against Baltimore.

There are some playoff yips to be exorcised here, is all I'm saying.

Losing this game would feel worse than winning it would feel good. And winning would feel damn good. Losing ... that's what brings the demons at night.

So Patriots, if any of you are reading this right now -- Tully, you're my man -- don't screw around. I want 75-0. If it's 27-26, I'll take it, but you'll have to pay the hospital bills. Just, please, for the sake of us and the rest of the world not having to listen to the Jets anymore, beat these clowns.

You just CAN'T lose this game. You can't.

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